Israel Parliament Lifts Immunity of Former Deputy PM

Published July 5th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Israeli Knesset Wednesday lifted the parliamentary immunity of former deputy premier Yitzhak Mordechai, who has been charged with three counts of sexual assault. 

The committee on parliamentary affairs voted 16-0 to lift the immunity, which paves the way for the prosecution of Mordechai, a Knesset source said. 

The decision would be announced later Wednesday to the full parliament.  

Abstaining in the vote was MP Ronnie Milo, a member of the Center party, whose six deputies were led by Mordechai until his resignation in May following the charges being made against him. 

During the meeting of the parliamentary affairs committee, Israeli Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said the Mordechai case involved "serious crimes" and that the prosecution had "overwhelming proof" against the politician, who had also served as transportation minister. 

Mordechai, who also attended the meeting, denounced what he called a "campaign of defamation" against him, saying he would be happy to be able to appear in court "to prove (his) innocence." 

This is the first case in Israeli history of a minister facing charges over sexual improprieties. 

Mordechai came under fire in early March after an initial complaint by a 23-year-old woman employed in his office. 

He was accused by the employee of locking her in his office, throwing her to the ground and groping her, a complaint that led to further allegations. 

A second woman was allegedly assaulted by Mordechai in November 1996 when he served as defense minister. A third accuser was a woman soldier under his command while he was the army's chief northern commander in October 1992 - OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP) 


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